Real Estate Tip of the Week: Starting a Real Estate Podcast

Looking to add something new to your real estate marketing? Something different, fun, and exciting?

You’ve worked on your social media accounts, but what about – podcasting?

More than half of listeners are at least somewhat likely to consider buying from a brand after hearing its advertisement on a podcast AND more than half of all US consumers listen to podcasts.* There’s a lot to be reached in this area of marketing!

But, what can you talk about? Three out of every four listeners* say they tune in to learn new things – so a great way to pull in new prospects and reach new audiences is to talk about the real estate market and giving as much information as possible!

Here are some real estate podcast tips:

Topic

  • Share real estate market statistics, reports, and any updates that buyers and sellers need to be aware of.
  • Focus locally – what does your town/city look like for real estate?
  • Help buyers and sellers understand the real estate terminology they’ll be surrounded by when they jump into the process. Aid in their knowledge of how the title and escrow industry works!

Overview

  • You’ll need to consider how you’d like your podcast to look. Are you the sole host, or will you have a cohost?
  • Think about who you’d like to have as a guest star – lenders? Other agents? Previous buyers or sellers?

Plan

  • You’ll want to plan at 6-months of episodes so your audience has plenty to listen and get hooked to.
  • If you’re thinking of how often you should release an episode, once a week is the perfect sweet spot!

Set Up

Apps

  • Post your podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher – the list goes on!

You don’t need to be a famous celebrity to start a podcast; you are a real estate agent, and you have plenty of information and material that buyers and sellers would be eager to listen to!

For more real estate tips, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

*Podcast Statistics

Home Inspections – The Biggest Red Flags

Purchasing a home is a bit like a marathon; it takes longer than you expect it to, but once you cross the finish line, you find that it was all worth it.

One of the steps that is very much worth it, is the home inspection.

According to Porch.com, 86% of home inspections find something that needs to be fixed – and it could save the buyer an average of $14,000.

However, with how hot the real estate market is right now (particularly, for sellers), many buyers are trying their best to make their offer stand out – in June of 2020, 20% of buyers were waiving their inspection contingency.*

But what do home inspectors look for? What are the biggest, most common issues that they find in a home? Let’s check it out!

Home inspectors will evaluate the:

  • Roof
  • Ceilings
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Windows
  • Major appliances
  • Heating & air conditioning systems
  • Plumbing & electrical systems
  • Home foundation
  • Attic
  • Basement
  • Other structural components
  • And more

The most common issues are:

  • Roofing – these can be leaks, venting, material condition, proper installation, or other visible issues with the roof.
  • Electrical wiring – these can be reversed polarity, frayed insulation, DIY wiring, over-fusing, and mismatched wiring.
  • Windows – these usually have to do with energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
  • Gutters – clogged gutters can cause water to back up and lead to other damage.
  • Plumbing – issues can be leaky faucets, clogged drains, and outdated pipes.

Home inspections can really give a buyer a better understanding of a home and its past history. Jumping through this hoop in the home purchasing experience will be worth it once you have your keys in hand!

*Home inspections are incredibly important, but that doesn’t mean it is a “must do.” Please talk with your real estate agent to see what the best option for you and your purchasing experience might be.

Fuel Your Business with Our Tools

Say hello to our suite of tools! Being a successful agent means utilizing the best resources for your business. Alliance Title has the support you need in one convenient location – check out our list of tools below to set yourself up for a booming year!

EMTRANSFER: A cloud-based service that allows agents, buyers, and earnest money holders to securely document, collect, and disburse earnest money 100% electronically.

CC&RS AND PLATS: Agents can access CC&R and Plat information 24/7 utilizing this convenient search tool on our website.

NET SHEET: Agents access user-friendly net sheets for quick estimates and closing fees through Title Capture.

GET A QUOTE: The Get a Quote widget, powered by Title Capture, is a quick and easy way for lenders to access our title and escrow fee information.

PROFILEZ ON DEMAND AND/OR AGENT INTEL: Agents can access property profile information seamlessly and confidently.

Call your local Alliance Title Rep to connect with our tools!

Understanding Escrow

Let Alliance help you understand a little bit more about the real estate lingo – and hey – you can always improve your score in Scrabble too, can’t you?

If you’re currently in the process (or about to be in the process) of purchasing a home, then you’ve probably heard the word “escrow” quite a lot. So, what is it?

In the real estate world, escrow refers to funds and documents that are held by an impartial third party (like Alliance Title & Escrow) on behalf of the buyer and seller and/or lender during the completion of the transaction.

Written instructions will be created and given to all parties involved, and it is only then that funds will be distributed and documents recorded in accordance to what the written instructions stated.

Why Escrow is Important

Not only do escrows act as protection for the buyers and sellers, but they are also convenient. All parties rely on the escrow holder to faithfully carry out their mutually agreed upon instructions – or, advise the parties if any of the instructions are contradictory or cannot be completed.

Once everything has been fulfilled within the terms and conditions of the written instructions, and all closing conditions are completed, the escrow is closed and the transfer of property and money is completed.

Escrow & the Seller

The seller is assured and feels confident that the transaction will properly close, and that the title will not pass to the buyer until the purchase price is fully paid.

Escrow & the Buyer

The buyer is able to review the condition of the title to property by receiving a copy of the preliminary title report prior to closing, and of course, that the transaction will be properly completed and the title cleared.

Know your real estate vocab & increase your Scrabble score – and for more real estate guides, check out Alliance Title’s Blog!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Digital Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

Real estate is having to keep up with technology and it becoming a barrier in relationships.

Digital closings rose significantly amid COVID19; remote closings kept the real estate world ticking, but its left real estate agents wondering how they can continue fostering their networks and connections, if there’s no face-to-face interactions.

Regardless of COVID, digital closings were bound to happen – it’s just happened at an exponential rate that many agents were not prepared for.

Here are some tips to keep your digital closings personal:

Video & Live Chat

If possible, include video and/or live chat features for interacting and closing sales with customers. These can help increase engagement with potential and current clients while handling the process remotely.

Explain, Explain, Explain

Clients are more likely to ask questions to clarify things in person rather than over a video chat. Be sure to carefully explain each document and signature needed. Open the floor for them to ask questions and be sure to allow for plenty of time for interaction while closing.

Offer a Pre-Closing/Post-Closing Video Chat

Prior to the closing date, a title or escrow agent will send the signer the digital closing package. Let your clients know that you are available to go over a virtual consultation video to ease any anxiety or confusion your clients may have before the eclosing.

A recent study found that 2 in 5 people described buying their first home as the “most stressful event” of their lives – help ease this stress!

As a real estate agent, it’s your job to help your client through the entire process of a home purchase or sale – and with the swift change in digital closings, your guidance is even more important!

For more real estate tips, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Fight Business Email Compromise

Computer crimes never stop – and cyber criminals have taken advantage with all of us working from home.

So, what is Business Email Compromise (BEC)?

BEC is an email scam that targets specific people in an organization with the goal to either steal money, data, or other confidential employee information.

The FBI reported losses of $1.7 billion in 2019 due to BEC. Yikes.

What do these emails look like?

Cyber criminals will send an email message that mostly likely will appear to come from a known source making (what you think) is a legitimate request. Real examples of BEC include:

  • Homebuyer receives an email from their title company with instructions on how to wire their down payment.
  • A vendor your company works with sends an invoice with an updated mailing address

What are some of the signs of a BEC?

The email address might look slightly different – so it’s important that you remain vigilant. It could be something as little as a moved period in an email address or an added letter.

There’s usually a link within the email asking the receiver to click it to send them information (what you think is a legitimate request).

What can you do to fight BEC?

  • Do not click on anything in an unsolicited email asking you to either update or verify account information. Call the company (with a number you already have – not with the number provided in the potentially fake email that was sent to you) and verify with them that way.
  • Be vigilant and investigate the email address, URL, and spelling used in the email. Like mentioned before, they’ll only be slight differences.
  • Never open an email attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of attachments forwarded to you.
  • If you can, set up multi-factor authentication in your accounts for an extra layer of protection.

It’s important to always be aware of what is being sent to you through your emails. Remain vigilant and keep up the fight against BEC!

*Alliance Title uses CertifID as an extra layer of protection for wires.

Fall In Love with Your New Neighborhood

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about showing affection and appreciation towards your significant other – it’s also about making sure you choose the right neighborhood for you!

Okay, we might be reaching here, but roll with us.

When you’re ready to move, or purchase your first home, making sure you choose the right location is a top priority. You’ll want to make sure to check out the neighborhood – because, hey, neighborhoods can have some red flags too.

Test out the Commute

One major regret homeowner’s face: not running through daily errands or their commute to and from work. Nothing hurts like having to sit in the car for longer than you were expecting to.

Test out your commute on busy days and times (rush hour) and see how it feels. How long does it take you to get to the closest grocery store, etc.? What public transportation options are available in your area?

Make a Weekend Date of it

Explore the area during the weekend – explore the neighborhood during the morning, afternoon, and evening. Are there huge house parties taking place? Are people out and about on walks, jogs, etc.? Can you picture yourself there?

It’s a good idea to also sample any of the local coffee shops or restaurants nearby.

Look up School Districts

Whether or not you have kids, the quality of schools in a neighborhood is critical. A better school district usually means a higher home value – and if you’re a parent, you’ll want to make sure the school district is a reputable one, and that it is a good fit for your child.

Download an App

Apps such as CrimeReports can help provide information about crime within the location or address. Your friend becomes an FBI agent and searches for your date on the internet – why wouldn’t you do the same for your neighborhood?

Buying a home is an incredible accomplishment and a commitment, just like love. Be sure to do your thorough research on the home and neighborhood before you sign!

Want more real estate guides? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Why Aren’t You Texting?

Buyers and Sellers – they’re just like us: they don’t want to talk on the phone. No one really does.

What do they prefer, then?

Simple! Texting. Text, text, text.

As a real estate agent, how can you communicate through text without coming off as too aggressive?

Check out our tips on how you can establish a relationship with leads, buyers, and sellers through text messaging:

Be the First to Respond

A client has found you through your social media pages or your blog – they reach out to you through your phone number listed, but you’re currently busy! What do you do?

Create an auto-responder for online leads! You can set up a text message to send after a lead clicks “submit” on an online form of yours, or when they text you (if you have your phone number listed). Don’t know how to set up an auto-responder? Check out how to create one, here.

Send Reminders/Updates

You don’t want your client to miss an important piece of information! Sometimes emails can be overlooked – so shoot a friendly reminder or update text!

Remind them of important dates and times; send updated information about a nearby neighborhood; let them know when the appraisals gone through!

Keep in Touch

As an agent, you know how important it is to stay in touch with previous clients – through email drip campaigns, through postcards, and now, through texting!

After a client has closed on a home, check up on them in about 2 weeks and ask how things are going. When it’s been a year since their home has closed, send a happy anniversary text! Little messages like this go a long way – and keep you in the front of their mind the next time they look at a new home!

A quick reminder: texting is supposed to be quick and straight-to-the-point (hey, that’s why we love texting more than talking on the phone, right?) – so don’t think too hard about sending out a text. Be friendly, be yourself, and don’t send long essays.

For more real estate tips, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

How to Be a Responsible Homeowner

You’ve completed the major hurdle of becoming a homeowner and carrying the very special keys to your home!

But, what next?

You’re still a homeowner, even after the real estate agent and title company are no longer in your recent contacts. You have a very real responsibility of keeping your home in tip-top shape!

Emergency Home Repairs Fund

Homes can have unexpected (and sometimes emergency!) repairs, and they aren’t necessarily cheap. It’s incredibly important that you set up an emergency home repairs fund so you’re ready for any of those rainy days. But how much should you be putting away?

One rule of thumb is the 1% rule – you should set aside 1% of your home’s value every year for these emergency repairs. For instance, a $300,000 home would be $3,000 per year, or $300 per month.

This all depends on the current state of your home, as well.

Research Contractors

When the situation arises to hire a contractor to fix any sort of renovation in your home, you’ll want to be sure to do your research.

You should get multiple bids and vet the contractors and their subcontractors by checking references, reading reviews, and verifying licensing and insurance.

Home Renovation Contract

You’ve found the contractor, but now you need the contract. A write up ensures that all parties understands the total cost, timing, etc. Be sure to include time frames, payment arrangements, the contractor’s license number, and the names of who is involved.

Home Emergency Kit

You’d never want to be stumbling in the dark of your home trying to find where you put your flashlights, would you?

Be sure to create an emergency supply kit with flashlights, batteries, first-aid, water, and non-perishable food. Put this emergency kit in an easy-to-reach location.

Being a homeowner has a lot of responsibility – but it’s all worth it!

For more real estate guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Becoming a Homeowner? Here are Tips to Complete Your Transaction

Title & Escrow – if you’ve never entered the arena in this part of the title and escrow world, then you’ve come to the right place!

Here at Alliance Title, we take pride in providing the best closing experience for everyone involved – that means agents, lenders, and their customers. In order to help throughout this transaction, we thought it would be best to outline some quick tips and tricks that can ensure a smooth and easy transaction.

Provide the following to your escrow team:

  • The completed and signed Earnest Money Agreement (EMA). Be sure the EMA is legible.
  • All addendums to the EMA.
  • A commission verification form.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, and/or fax numbers for your clients and/or the lender they are using.
  • Any additional insight or information regarding your customer(s) that may help make the process go without a hitch the day of closing – such as:
    • The need for a translator;
    • If they are visually, audibly, or physically impaired;  
    • If they require separate signings (i.e., divorce)
  • Homeowner’s association contact information

Other quick tidbits:

  • Carefully review the title commitment – if any questions arise, contact your escrow team ASAP!
  • Encourage the seller to:
    • Provide payoff authorizations promptly.
    • Review their state withholding requirements with their accountant (if applicable).
  • Encourage the buyer to:
    • Notify your escrow team immediately should an issue or problem arise before the closing date.

Check out Alliance Title’s Client Resource Guide for more tips!